Social Security Denials Continue to Rise

New Social Security disability claim approvals continue to fall from their peak of over one million in 2010 and 2011. In 2014 and 2015, an applicant for disability benefits had less than a one in three chance of approval. An applicant in 2001 had nearly a 50% chance of approval. Other statistics also show that being granted Social Security disability benefits is increasingly difficult.

The Social Security Administration’s own statistics show how difficult the process has become in recent years. As the total number of applicants and payments rose through the middle of the last decade, approval rates dropped dramatically.From 2001 to 2004, the number of applicants jumped from under 1.5 million per year to well over two million each year. Approval rates during this period dropped from over 46% to barely 37%, making Social Security claims in Chicago much more likely to be denied.

Termination Rates also High

At the same time that approval rates for new SSI disability claims decreased, termination rates on existing claims began to climb. In fact, since 2001 there have only been two years when terminations on existing claims dropped. The last time was in 2003, and rejection rates now stand at their highest levels since 2001. This means that Chicago Social Security claims have a very high chance for termination, in addition to the likelihood of a new claim’s denial.

Overall, the Social Security system withstood a very strong test in Chicago and around the nation during the latest recession, and even before. During this period, the total number of current disability claims rose by 5% nearly every year, pushing the total number of claims in current payment from 5.2 to 8.9 million in less than fifteen years. This trend ended in 2015, when the total number of accounts in current payment dropped slightly for the first time in decades.

When viewed from a purely statistical perspective, there is a clear relationship between the total number of claims in current payment and new claim denials or termination rates. Now that the total number of cases has declined, there may be some relief in sight for applicants who suffered denials in the past. However, with the number of total claims still near historical highs, this relief will take a while to arrive.